What Seasoning to Put on Steak?

Steak is a beloved delicacy that has graced the tables of steak enthusiasts for centuries. While the quality of the meat plays a crucial role in its flavor, the art of seasoning can elevate a good steak to extraordinary heights. But the question is what seasoning to put on steak?

Whether you’re a seasoned grill master or a newcomer to the world of steak preparation, this comprehensive guide will unveil the secrets to unlocking the full potential of your steak’s flavor profile.

Seasoning a steak is not merely a matter of adding salt and pepper; it’s a culinary ritual that can transform a simple piece of meat into a gastronomic masterpiece. Each seasoning blend brings its unique character, complementing the natural flavors of the steak while enhancing its overall taste experience. Proper seasoning not only adds depth and complexity but also helps to create a beautiful crust, sealing in the juices and ensuring a mouthwatering, tender bite.

The Classic: Salt and Pepper

No steak seasoning guide would be complete without acknowledging the timeless duo of salt and pepper. These humble ingredients have stood the test of time for a reason – they act as the perfect canvas upon which other flavors can be layered.

Coarse sea salt or Kosher salt is often preferred for its larger crystals, which adhere better to the steak’s surface and create a delightful crunch when seared. Freshly cracked black pepper adds a mild heat and earthy undertones, complementing the richness of the meat.

When it comes to the application of salt and pepper, timing is key. Some chefs recommend seasoning the steak generously up to an hour before cooking, allowing the salt to penetrate the meat and enhance its natural flavors. Others prefer to season just before cooking to ensure maximum saltiness on the surface.

Ultimately, it’s a matter of personal preference, but one thing is certain: a well-seasoned steak with salt and pepper is a classic that never disappoints.

Herb-Infused Butter and Oils

For those seeking a more elevated flavor experience and wondering what seasoning to put on steak, herb-infused butter and oils offer a world of possibilities. These aromatic additions not only impart delicious flavors but also add a touch of richness and moisture to the steak.

Start by selecting your desired herbs, such as rosemary, thyme, garlic, or parsley. Finely chop or blend the herbs with softened butter or high-quality olive oil, creating a vibrant and fragrant compound. Generously coat the steak with this herb-infused mixture before cooking, allowing the flavors to penetrate the meat as it sears.

Alternatively, you can create a simple herb butter by mixing softened butter with finely chopped herbs and a pinch of salt. Once the steak is cooked to your desired doneness, top it with a dollop of the herb butter, allowing it to melt over the surface and infuse its flavors into every bite.

Rubs and Marinades

For those seeking a more intense flavor profile, rubs and marinades offer a tantalizing solution. These preparations allow the steak to soak up a medley of spices and aromatics, transforming it into a flavor powerhouse.

Dry rubs are a classic choice, featuring a blend of dried herbs, spices, and seasonings. From the bold and smoky tones of a Southwest-inspired rub to the aromatic notes of a Mediterranean blend, the possibilities are endless.

Simply pat the rub onto the steak, ensuring an even coating, and let it rest for at least 30 minutes before cooking. This allows the flavors to penetrate the meat and create a delectable crust during the searing process.

Marinades, on the other hand, involve soaking the steak in a liquid mixture of oils, acids (such as vinegar or citrus juices), and a variety of herbs and spices. This technique not only infuses the meat with flavor but also helps to tenderize it. For best results, marinate your steak for several hours or even overnight, turning it occasionally to ensure even distribution of the flavors.

Global Inspirations: Exploring International Flavors

The world is a vast tapestry of culinary traditions, each with its own unique approach to seasoning steak. Embracing these global flavors can transport your taste buds on an international journey, elevating your steak experience to new heights.

Mediterranean Medley

Inspired by the vibrant flavors of the Mediterranean region, a blend of herbs like oregano, rosemary, thyme, and garlic can create a fragrant and earthy seasoning for your steak. Complement these herbs with a drizzle of high-quality olive oil and a sprinkle of coarse sea salt for a taste of the Mediterranean in every bite.

Jamaican Jerk

If you crave bold and spicy flavors, look no further than the fiery Jamaican jerk seasoning. A blend of allspice, thyme, scotch bonnet peppers, and a hint of cinnamon creates a complex and unforgettable flavor profile. Rub the seasoning onto your steak and let it marinate for a few hours to allow the flavors to penetrate the meat fully.

Argentine Chimichurri

Originating from Argentina, chimichurri sauce is a versatile and flavorful accompaniment to grilled meats, particularly steak. This vibrant blend of parsley, garlic, olive oil, and red wine vinegar adds a refreshing burst of flavor to your steak. While traditionally served as a sauce, you can also use the chimichurri mixture as a marinade or rub for your steak, infusing it with a taste of South American flair.

Japanese Umami Blend

For an unexpected twist on steak seasoning, explore the world of Japanese umami flavors. A blend of soy sauce, mirin, garlic, and grated ginger can create a rich and savory coating for your steak. Brush the mixture onto the meat before grilling or pan-searing to achieve a delectable crust with a depth of flavor reminiscent of Japanese cuisine.

Beyond Seasoning: Accompaniments and Sauces

What seasoning to put on steak

Although seasoning is the foundation of flavor, accompaniments, and sauces can take your steak experience to new heights. These flavorful additions not only complement the seasoning but also provide a contrasting or complementary flavor profile, creating a harmonious symphony on your plate.

Compound Butters

Compound butter are a delightful way to add a burst of flavor to your perfectly seasoned steak. Mix softened butter with your desired ingredients, such as herbs, garlic, citrus zest, or even blue cheese, for a decadent topping that melts over the steak, infusing it with rich and indulgent flavors.

Steak Sauces

From the classic béarnaise to the tangy chimichurri, steak sauces offer a world of flavor possibilities. Experiment with different recipes, such as a red wine reduction, peppercorn sauce, or even a creamy mushroom sauce, to find the perfect complement to your seasoned steak. These sauces can be drizzled over the steak or served on the side for dipping, allowing you to customize the flavor intensity with every bite.

Compound Mustards

For those who love a little kick, compound mustards are an excellent accompaniment to seasoned steaks. Mix your favorite mustard with ingredients like herbs, honey, or even beer for a unique and flavorful condiment. Spread a thin layer of the compound mustard over your steak before cooking, or serve it on the side for dipping.

Flavored Salts and Spice Blends

Don’t underestimate the power of flavored salts and spice blends. These versatile seasonings can add an extra layer of complexity to your steak. From smoked salt to lemon-pepper blends, these flavorful additions can be sprinkled over the steak before or after cooking, allowing you to tailor the seasoning to your personal preferences.

Cooking Methods and Seasoning Considerations

The way you cook your steak can also influence the seasoning process. Different cooking methods may require adjustments in seasoning application or timing to achieve optimal flavor. So, let’s find out what seasoning to put on steak for what particular cooking method.

Grilling and Searing

For grilled or seared steaks, it’s essential to apply the seasoning liberally to the surface of the meat before cooking. The high heat will create a delectable crust, locking in the flavors and ensuring a burst of seasoning in every bite. If using a dry rub or marinade, be sure to pat the steak dry before cooking to prevent steaming and promote proper searing.

Oven Roasting

When oven-roasting a steak, consider seasoning it well in advance. This allows the seasoning to penetrate the meat more deeply, infusing it with flavor from the inside out. You can also baste the steak with herb-infused butter or oil halfway through the cooking process to add an extra layer of flavor and moisture.

Sous Vide

The sous vide method, which involves cooking the steak in a precisely controlled water bath, presents a unique opportunity for seasoning. While some chefs recommend seasoning the steak before cooking, others suggest seasoning after the sous vide process to avoid washing away the seasonings during the extended cooking time. Experiment with both methods to find your preferred technique.

Reverse Searing

The reverse searing method, where the steak is first cooked at a low temperature and then seared at high heat, allows for a more controlled seasoning process. Season the steak before the low-temperature cooking phase, and then reapply your desired seasoning or rub before the final sear. This technique ensures that the seasonings are evenly distributed throughout the meat while creating a flavorful crust.

Seasoning Steaks of Different Cuts

different steak cuts

Just as seasoning plays a crucial role in enhancing flavor, the cut of steak you choose can also influence the seasoning approach. Different cuts have varying levels of tenderness, fat content, and flavor intensity, which can impact the seasoning requirements.

Tender Cuts: Filet Mignon, Tenderloin

Tender cuts like filet mignon and tenderloin are known for their delicate texture and mild flavor. With these cuts, it’s best to use a light hand when seasoning, as overpowering flavors can overpower their natural delicacy. A simple seasoning of salt, pepper, and a touch of herb butter or compound butter can complement their subtle flavors beautifully.

Flavorful Cuts: Ribeye, Strip Steak

Cuts like ribeye and strip steak are known for their robust flavors and higher fat content. These steaks can handle bolder seasoning blends, such as dry rubs or marinades, which will enhance their natural richness. Don’t be afraid to experiment with more assertive flavors like chili powder, smoked paprika, or cumin, as they will complement the intense beefiness of these cuts.

Tougher Cuts: Flank Steak, Skirt Steak

Tougher cuts like flank steak and skirt steak benefit from marinades or tenderizing rubs that not only add flavor but also help break down the muscle fibers, resulting in a more tender and flavorful steak. Consider using acidic marinades with ingredients like citrus juices, vinegar, or wine, along with herbs and spices. The marinating process will not only tenderize the meat but also infuse it with a depth of flavor.


Although this guide provides a comprehensive overview of what seasoning to put on steak, the true joy lies in experimentation and discovering your personal flavor preferences. Don’t be afraid to mix and match different seasonings, creating unique blends that suit your taste buds.

Start by exploring different herb and spice combinations, noting which flavors you gravitate towards. Perhaps you favor the warmth of cumin and chili powder or the brightness of lemon zest and rosemary. Alternatively, you might find yourself drawn to the robust flavors of garlic and smoked paprika.

Experiment with different cooking methods as well, as they can impact the way seasonings are absorbed and expressed in the final dish. A seasoning blend that shines on a grilled steak might taste slightly different when oven-roasted or sous vide.

Remember, seasoning is an art form, and mastering it takes practice and a willingness to explore. Don’t be discouraged if your first few attempts don’t yield the desired results. Keep tasting, adjusting, and refining your seasoning techniques until you find the perfect combination that ignites your taste buds and transforms your steak into a truly remarkable culinary experience.

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Will Frost

Will Frost

When Will is not behind the grill at one of his two Texas Steakhouses, He can be found exploring new recipes, researching the latest grilling gadgets, or sharing his culinary adventures on social media. Join Will Frost on CookAsteak.com as he embarks on a flavorful journey, unlocking the secrets to mastering outdoor cooking and creating unforgettable meals that bring people together.

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